The Pittsburgh Penguins search for a new General Manager is over. One of the more unlikely candidates to be representing the black and gold has now officially been hired. Ron Hextall, former goaltender and GM of Pennsylvania-rivals the Philadelphia Flyers has officially been selected as the successor to Jim Rutherford, the team announced Tuesday.
“It’s an honor to be joining the Pittsburgh Penguins – an organization well-known for it’s excellence on and off the ice,” said Hextall. “I look forward to working with the ownership, Brian and the entire organization toward the ultimate goal of bringing another Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh.”
Hextall was one of a large list of candidates interviewed for the position over the course of the last week, and did enough to impress the teams ownership and management. Much to the surprise and dislike of Philadelphia Flyers fans, Hextall will serve as the 11th GM of their cross-state rivals. However, his family ties do not run far from the Penguins organization as his father, Bryan Hextall Jr. was a forward for the Penguins in the 1970s.
“I’ve come full circle, as I have fond memories as a youth in Pittsburgh watching the Penguins and my father.” said Hextall in a statement following the announcement of his hire.
The 56-year-old played in 13 NHL seasons as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, Quebec Nordiques, and New York Islanders. He has worked in management since his retirement for both the LA Kings, where he won Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014 as the teams assistant GM, and for the Flyers, with whom he served as the GM from 2014-2018. Since his firing in 2018, he has returned to the Kings organization as an advisor in the hockey operations department.
The Manitoba-native’s career as a GM saw his Flyers make the postseason twice, being eliminated in the first round both times, and left him with an overall record of 165-128-58 in those four seasons. This will be his second opportunity to prove himself as a GM in the league with some tough shoes to fill. The Penguins are in win-now mode seeing as superstars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang are on the back end of their careers. The goal for the new GM is to salvage what’s left of the star trio before the window of opportunity fully slams shut.
Additionally, the team announced that Brian Burke was also hired to work alongside their new GM. He returns to a management role in the NHL after several years in the media industry, most notably as an analyst on Sportsnet. The 65-year-old brings plenty of experience to the organization having been the former GM of the Hartford Whalers, Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks, and Toronto Maple Leafs. His most recent role in the NHL came as president of hockey operations with the Calgary Flames. His new role with the Penguins, director of hockey operations, will have him oversee Hextall’s decisions and will report directly to CEO David Morehouse.
This large change in front-office personnel comes after the abrupt departure of GM Jim Rutherford just a few weeks ago. The long-time Pens GM left citing “personal reasons”, though that claim has since been disputed. Interim-GM Patrick Allvin’s tenure in charge was short-lived, and he will be moved back to his original position as the team’s assistant GM.